Partnership aims to curb cardiovascular disease among African-Americans in Alabama

Nearly $1 million donated to National Baptist Convention USA to fund community programs

WASHINGTON — A new health initiative will address cardiovascular disease among African-Americans living in three counties in Alabama where the problem is considered significant.

The initiative is a public-private partnership led by the Department of Health and Human Services, which together with the Morehouse School of Medicine, awarded $900,000 to the National Baptist Convention USA to build on faith-based organizations to connect communities to vital healthcare resources like hypertension-management services, including blood pressure monitoring, free or low-cost medication and patient counseling and education.

Alabama is one of the states constituting the so-called "Stroke Belt," a region that includes most states in the South, and African-Americans living there frequently lack access to health care; 54 of the state's 67 counties have a shortage of primary care, dental or mental health providers. According to 2009 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, African-Americans are 30% more likely to die from heart disease.

The initiative is part of the Million Hearts Stroke Belt Project, which the HHS Office of Minority Health and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Office of Minority Health are jointly funding.

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